Me and my FT8 experience - so far :-)

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by OE4KSF, Aug 8, 2019.

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  1. OE4KSF

    OE4KSF Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well, I’m a newcomer out here - only had my licence for a few years

    In the beginning it was always only SSB for me, but my friends that know that I’m working with computers (for living) was always asking if I had tried any digital modes

    I then started with wspr - build ( is what I really like to do - build things) some RX/TX units for testing out the wspr.
    Indeed interesting to see how far you could get - using 10/100mW :)

    So - then got me testing the FT8 - did not really see me doing only PC -> PC communication , but would like to test it out.

    And now have more than 5.000 entries in my FT8 log, and 156 countries logged - and this in only 5 months :)

    Finding me now looking for new countries - even more than I do on SSB

    Will I stop using SSB - no - not at all - I still like to “talk” to someone out there, but I have to say that the FT8 is addicting :)

    Have even started to learn me CW :) Slow learner, but getting there

    So for all of you that are thinking about trying digital modes - do it - test it out - its different , but also fun

    Yes it might be a bit problematic to get everything up and running, but take that as part of the fun - to make things work :)

    And with the internet handy - plenty of places to get help - and remember the only dumb question is the one you did not make
    K2CQW, KA0HCP, KC8QVO and 1 other person like this.
  2. N4UP

    N4UP Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thank you for sharing that. You are doing very well and better than I am on FT8. I have been licensed since 1963 and prefer CW, but have made 6000+ contacts on FT8 in three years. Only 143 countries on FT8, but 301 overall. I get much more excited over a new CW country than on FT8, but I still enjoy the quick FT8 exchange.

    I enjoyed my visit to Innsbruck in 2010 and am happy to have made 251 contacts with Austria. I hope to work you one of these days.
  3. OE4KSF

    OE4KSF Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thank you Peter , yes hope to find you on the air on day :)
    So far 316 US County logged on FT8 , just now a new one on 15m :)
  4. N8AFT

    N8AFT Subscriber QRZ Page

    Dr Knut; Don't think of yourself as a slow learner!
    Learning Morse takes time and effort but you'll find it to be well worth it when you have mastery.

    Learn Morse.
    Do CW.
    KC8QVO likes this.
  5. OE4KSF

    OE4KSF Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thank you N8AFT, yes I know , my problem is to find time to have continuity to the learning ;-)
    I find about 25wpm to be best for my ears , slower I'm finding myself listen after dits and dots .
    But will be there one day :)
  6. KG5WKO

    KG5WKO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I Was very into cw as ham back in 1960;s. Cw is like learning the piano-you have to practice constantly. Even after a decades of abscence, I am back to 16 wpm. You will get there and welcome to CW!
    I am one struggling with setting up rig and computer for ft8 psk31 because new digital technology above my experience curve.
    Good luck and around 14.070? if i am not forgetting I am on cw in early hours of day MST. hearme give me a call.
  7. OE4KSF

    OE4KSF Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hello all , just wanted to make an update on this matter ....
    I have tried to read what I could find on the forum about FT8 or any digital modes, and find that there is a somewhat war going on - FT8 against all other modes.
    I'm asking myself why is this happening ?
    Isn't a digital mode just that - another mode - not even interfering with the frequency on the band for the other modes ....
    Yes - let's face it - computer to computer is not the same kind of conversation as a SSB - and I have a problem in calling a FT8 contact a QSO, but thats me !
    Yes I have quite a few FT8 contacts now - and more every day, but I also use FT8 to check out my antennas - switching antenna system are giving me great possibility to check out the performance of my antennas - on different bands - and different time of the day.
    Without this possibility - it would be more difficult to really "see" the performance differences. Real life checking is not the same as a theoretical calculation.
    And going for 1:1 swr has nothing to do with antenna performances :) This way I have found for my antennas the best tuning I can make - to have them perform best. And my 160m loop did not work best only to get it as high as possible , but after changing wire for 4 times now - I have found the wire working best for me :)
    And - like using ladder line or balune and coax - was another question. Well - have now tested for some time - and still do - as I will relocate my shack and therefore need to think differently in getting my coaxes into the shack . Also relocating my small tower (only 15m) making interesting new experiences.

    So what is this telling me - yes FT8 is giving me a great opportunity to check out what the theory is trying to tell me :)
    Yes wspr is also doing a great work here :)

    So lett us all go along - use whatever mode you prefer - the same we are all using different radios+++ -
    The hobby is not restricted to equipment or modes - its a hobby !!!!

    Yes, I will back into self made QRP radios - as this is my "real" hobby, and as written - working on my CW - as CW on self made radios is for me the real HAM
    I will one day - only need some time

    For now - have a wonder full time with your hobby - do the best out of it SSB,CW,FT8 - dis not matter - as long as you find it interesting - following the rules as best you can - and HAVE FUN

    73 - OE4KSf - Knut

    Sorry for the english, I'm not native english speaker , but as in the HAM spirit - do the best you can - and have fun !
    K4NCO and G0JUR like this.
  8. N1NA

    N1NA Subscriber QRZ Page

    Knut, when I was first licensed and was going for the general class, 13 WPM is about the most difficult speed to copy. 20 has a nice rhythm and much easier - in fact 30 WPM is even more "rhythmical". This could just be me or I was an Austrian musician in a past life - LOL
    73s- N1NAm Chuck
  9. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    FT8 (and every other newfangled digital mode I've tried) have always WORKED just fine. It's just that they're so boring, so I always default to plain vanilla RTTY when I'm in a digital mood.
    K1APJ likes this.
  10. KC8QVO

    KC8QVO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I used to work a lot of PSK31 between about 2002 and 2010 maybe. That was a neat mode where you could type as you were transmitting and have a "ragchew" by typing. It was neat - and combined both the traditional conversation style ragchew with digital computer modes.

    I would say PSK31 was the most popular digital mode, in the sense of "modern digital modes" (RTTY is old school digital, still used, but pre-modern, in my frame of reference here). Olivia was out there along with a whole host of others. Check out MixW and Digipan - they are multi-mode digital software programs and will give you a sense of the numbers of modes that have been around in the past. I've made QSO's with tons of different modes, but none more than PSK31.

    FT8 is sort of revolutionizing digital modes. Its efficiency is easily unparalleled. However, that efficiency is at the expense of being able to have a conversation over the air - and that expense is from 2 factors. 1 = very limited information (bare essentials). 2 = streamlined, calibrated time sequencing. You can't hold a transmission to get dialogue in.

    I think digital modes have their place, and as you have found, Knut - there are a bazillion different aspects of the hobby. To each their own, and after all, it is just a "hobby". All operators should have the freedom to gravitate towards what catches their fancy and enjoy it.

    As to CW - by my avatar it should be obvious that I enjoy CW also. I have not kept up with it over the past few years, but I've dabbled in it. I am wrapping up an Elecraft K2 build (been in process since 2010 - got the radio on the air then but with a couple bugs, I got everything worked out and the SSB kit together in the past week and a half - just made my first QSO on 40m LSB with it tonight also - 12-15 watts). In the past week I've run CW on and off on the K2 and generally keep my speed at 15wpm. I use a 17wpm key speed and add space. It works for me. I'm still missing some as I am pretty rusty, but I can get through QSO's. The more I can use it the better off Ill be.

    Truth be told - in regards to CW - back in the early days of being a Ham I got through my exams with the 5wpm code test. After that I started using a software program on the computer called CWGet to decode. I was sort of using it as a "backup" so if I missed what was sent I had something to glance at and keep going. That was one of the worst mistakes I ever made in my Ham radio endeavors.

    At some point some years back I got mad at myself for not being good at copying CW entirely by ear so I wrote off the decoding programs and went to manual copy entirely with a notepad. Yeah, I don't have a "backup" if I miss copying anything, but I also take short notes of what the essentials are and what is interesting. I don't write a book exactly transcribing the transmission, I write enough to log. The rest I "listen to". It is really peaceful that way.

    I agree with others that slow speed CW is hard to copy (below about 13wpm). It is easier to learn the rhythm of the characters at higher speed with space between. When I have been in my peak CW shape I have been around 25wpm. During contests (ARRL VHF and Field Day for the most part, ARRL 160 sometimes) I have run up to 30wpm. However, it is easier to do with the contest exchanges. That may also be a good suggestion for you to learn CW - use a contest to work some QSO's. Listen for a while before you transmit so you get an idea of the exchange, copy some details from a station, then try to work the station. It keeps the pressure down a lot to work stations like that.

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